Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
– Second Fig, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I was thinking about this poem today, a favorite of mine, and it occurred to me. One might argue the project I am working on is an ugly house built upon the sand. Of course, that’s a pessimistic view, so I’ll just gleefully stick my head in the sand and not walk further down that road.
But what else could this beautiful two line poem convey?
Kids. Kids are in desperate need of a solid foundation and sometimes life throws other things their way and they find their youth spent upon the sand (and not the actual sand, like those lucky southern California kids, with their unchanging perfect weather and what nots).
Stability is key for youth, it allows the youth in question to be the unbalanced object in a world of constants. If instead the kid is growing up surrounded by change – parents, house, schools, friends, whatever – then something stable will hopefully jump up. And most likely that stable item or person won’t be recognized, and almost certainly it won’t be appreciated, but perhaps one day it will be.
But if there is no stability, that kid could end up the stable item and miss that topsy turvy lifestyle (in later years, when money is available and responsibilities are relatively few, that topsy turvy lifestyle could be found and be quite detrimental – I’m looking at you, child stars). Or perhaps the kid will be the unstablest of unstables, and shock the comparatively stable adults who can’t help but get angry at this child. Maybe instead of anger as the chief emotion, patience should instead be the one to try to go to first. Another beautiful line:
Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.
This gem is from the tongue-tying-ly named George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon.
I figure any kid who represents a shining palace is certainly representing such a thing on sand. Because one wrong comment can show the lack of foundation that shining palace is built upon.
And, as a person who thinks of himself as living in a pretty lovely house on solid rock, I’ll remind you that when you live in the ugliest house on the block, you don’t have to look at it … you get to look out at all the shining palaces built around you. (A judgmental paradise.)
What’s my point? What is the purpose of this Andy Rooney Jr. kind of rant? I guess I’m just suggesting that people remember that we are all built upon a foundation that is part sand, part concrete, and that all of us should try to serve as concrete rather than sand in the lives of those around us, and even those who may be far away but who we value.
That Old Sentimental So-and-So